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U.S., 18 Other Nations Agree on Tuna Panel

September 06, 2000|From Associated Press

HONOLULU — The United States and several other nations agreed Tuesday to create a commission to regulate the catch of tuna in the Pacific Ocean, but Japan threatened to ignore any new regulations if its concerns aren't addressed.

Nineteen of the 24 nations attending a conference on migratory fish formally approved the creation the commission, which supporters say will help ensure a sustainable harvest of fish. Several of the nations, including the United States, still need government approval.

Japan and South Korea oppose the deal, while China, France and Tonga abstained.

Japan complained that concerns it had raised over some aspects of the agreement, including the boundaries of the affected fishing zone, were ignored by the group.

"If Australia, New Zealand and their voting bloc continue to trample upon our rights and ignore our views, they will leave us no choice but to continue our fishing in the area outside of the proposed convention," said Masayuki Komatsu of the Japanese delegation.

Two-thirds of the world's tuna is caught in the Pacific region and is valued at $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year, according to the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council.

While Pacific tuna stocks are not currently threatened, supporters said the agreement is necessary to ensure their future.

The agreement allows the commission to set limits on how many fish could be caught, where they could be taken, the times of the year fishing would be permitted and what type of gear could be used.

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